Carbonates and Evaporites

, 10:131 | Cite as

Correlation of contemporary karst landforms with paleokarst landforms: The problem of scale

  • William B. White
  • Elizabeth L. White


The signature of karst terrain is a suite of characteristic landforms: caves, closed depressions, deranged surface drainage, and sculptured bedrock surfaces. Identification of karst, in reality, is accomplished by an ill-defined mix of morphological, sedimentological, and bedrock-geology evidence. The purely morphological signature depends on an examination of population statistics and the scaling laws for the various landforms. Caves are gragments of active and paleo conduit drainage systems. The distribution of cave lengths is a power function with a fractional (fractal) exponent. The number of closed depressions of given depth or diameter falls off exponentially with increasing size. Blind valley areas relate to stream length and stream order by power laws. Some features of bedrock sculpturing occur at fixed scale. Pinnacle karren, however, appear to be scale invariant over seven orders of magnitude of scale range.


Ordovician Stream Length Ordovician Limestone Cave Population Karst Landform 


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Copyright information

© Springer 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • William B. White
    • 1
  • Elizabeth L. White
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geosciences and Materials Research LaboratoryThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park

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